PASADENA, CALIF. — After she finished eighth on the ninth season of "American Idol" and performed in its summer tour in 2010, then teen singer Katie Stevens of Middlebury, moved to Los Angeles to take advantage of all the opportunities that were sure to come.
But they never did.
When the "Idol" money ran out to pay her rent, she ended up working at a cupcake shop.
"It was funny," Stevens, now 21, recalls. "People would come up and say, 'You look familiar.' And I'd say, 'I get that all the time.'"
She didn't mind doing honest work. But the Sprinkles Cupcakes shop was right next to CBS Television City where they shoot "American Idol" live shows twice a week.
"Sometimes I'd even park on the CBS lot," she says. "It was hard for me. Not to have a job but considering where I was, I thought my life would be somewhere else by now."
She had tried to meet with music producers and go on auditions for acting jobs to no avail.
"I had a moment one of those days where I felt, nothing is happening for me. Nobody wants to work on my music with me, nobody wants me to be on their shows. And it was kind of at my rock bottom point, I got my part."
A casting director who thought she was finished completing the cast for a new MTV comedy saw her face in an email that had been overlooked.
"She saw my face and said, 'I want this one to come in,'" Stevens says. "It was like a chance thing."
But it was a talent thing that landed her the job —- lead on the new comedy "Faking It," which starts April 22 on MTV alongside its popular show "Awkward." The cast includes Rita Volk, Gregg Sulkin and Bailey Buntain (of "Bunheads" fame).
But the girl nextdoor who sang so powerfully on "Idol" won't be singing anytime soon on the show. Nor is she playing everyone's vision of the "girl next door.''
Stevens plays Karma, a high schooler who can't get noticed at high school until everyone thinks she and her girlfriend Amy are gay. Then they become the cause célèbre in the school set in Austin, Texas, even though she still has her eye on the cute guys.
Playing a pretend teenage lesbian may be a shock to those who remember her as the sweet teen from "Idol," and Stevens, over lunch at the TV Critics Association winter press tour following a press conference, is sorry about all that.
"It will be shocking and I apologize to anyone who will be shocked," she says, "but at the same time, for me, it was exciting because I feel this is the direction that the world is going in and you know, if you can't beat em, join em."
So the Katie Stevens the world knew is cussing, has her blouse go see-through when beer is spilled on it, and kisses her girlfriend to convince the school they're gay —- all in the first episode.
"I feel like it will cause some controversy," Stevens says, "But there's something to be said about controversy. I feel that a lot of things that we find controversial are things that we know to be true and we try to shy away from, or hide from."
At its core, she says, "Faking It" is a coming of age story, "about a kid finding herself, and figuring out who they are"
Stevens herself said she shied away from telling anyone she was a finalist on TV's biggest show when she went in for the audition.
"Faking It" creator Carter Covington, who has previously written for "Hart of Dixie," "Greek" and "10 Things I Hate About You," says he wasn't aware of Stevens' "Idol" credentials.